LUDWIGSBURG, Germany--As the early fall chill set into the air outside the Ludwigsburg Palace in Ludwigsburg, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, more than a hundred service members representing the United States, Germany, France and other partner nations, including several soldiers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, gathered in the warmth of the ornate receiving hall at the invitation of none other than the Baden-Wurttemberg Minister President October 19.
President Minister Winfried Kretschmann, whose position is roughly equivalent to that of a state governor, held a reception for the Armed Forces in Baden Wurttemberg to show support for troops from all partner nations stationed in Baden Wurttemberg and to honor them for their efforts abroad, and their active part in the communities of Baden-Wurttemberg.
"I thank all of the Soldiers and civilians serving in the armed forces of our lands," said Kretschmann during a speech at the event. "Your service deserves appreciation and respect."
Also speaking at the event were U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John Gardner, the deputy commander of the U.S. European Command, and German General Gert Wessels, the commander of Wehrbereich IV (military district 4), who commands all of the German Troops in Baden-Wurttemberg.
With thousands of U.S. service members as well as German Army Soldiers, Baden-Wurttemberg is home to a large portion of both countries' troops. Among the topics discussed by guest speakers at the reception were some of the struggles the U.S. and German militaries have in common. Among them were force reduction efforts and re-stationing and fiscal cutbacks as both the U.S. and German militaries try to do more with less. Also, Germany recently ended its long-time tradition of compulsory military service for young men, and has moved to an all-volunteer force.
The ceremony began with a performance of classical music by the Baden-Wurttemberg Police Orchestra's Clarinet Quartet. Following this, Kretschmann, Gardner and Wessels spoke. Soldiers were then invited to a social hour with food and drinks, followed by a ceremony honoring the French U.S. and German flags and national anthems, and a musical performance by the Baden Wurttemberg Police Orchestra which marked the close of the evening's events.
"I've been in Germany for six months now, and this is the first event I've been to like this," said Sgt. Jeffrey Rich, senior wheel mechanic and retention noncommissioned officer for the 554th Military Police Company, 95th MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade. "This place is really something, and it's nice to see all the different countries and different services together."